I would that the loving were loved, and
I would that the weary should sleep,
And that man should hearken to man,
And that he that soweth would reap.
He that is down needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride;
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because Thou savest such.
Fullness to such a burden is
That go on pilgrimage;
Here little, and hereafter bliss,
Is best from age to age.
A little explained, a little endured,
A little forgiven, the quarrel is cured.
C. H. Spurgeon
We must not judge of our worth by our talents, but by the use we make of them.
We cannot always choose our road in life, but we can choose whether we walk along the shady or sunny side of it.
Nothing is easier than fault-finding, no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character are required to set up in the grumbling business.
A Daily Prayer
Oh God keep me on the path of achieving happiness and success that are real,
Keep my vision always clear to see the goals,
Help me to tap the hidden powers within and above me,
Give me strength to work with all the energies of mind and body,
Help me to practise the love of people and service to others,
Keep me for ever with a smile on my face for the whole human race.
A talk by Mr. P. L. Brown given at the Romford Congregational Church Meeting on October 31st, 1951
In my report of the Annual Assembly meetings I gave details of a resolution passed at the Assembly on the subject of Gambling. I think to begin with I had better read that again. Here it is:-
"That this Assembly of the Congregational Union of England and Wales affirms its strong conviction that gambling from whatever motive or for whatever end is in irreconcilable opposition to Christian principles.
"It notes in particular that gambling destroys the integrity of Christian personality, weakens the sense of personal responsibility, prostitutes the use of money by directing it to wrong ends, involves both economic and moral loss to the community and gravely impairs the happiness and well-being of homes.
"It therefore calls in the strongest terms upon all Congregational Church members, and on all associated in the work of our Congregational Churches, not only to abstain from any such practices and to eliminate from all efforts to raise money for church purposes anything which might be understood as gambling, but also to ensure that the question of gambling is discussed in church meeting, and that young people receive adequate training in the Christian objections to the practice."
About fifteen or so years ago, when I was Captain of the 1st Romford Boys' Brigade Company, I gave a talk to the boys on this subject. I remember I gave it the title of "Are you a sportsman or a mug?" and I commenced by asking the boys to give me a definition of that word "mug."
We thrashed it out together, and this is what we arrived at:
"A person who is easily taken in, one who is an easy prey for someone smarter; the kind of person who can be persuaded in Romford Market to pay 10s. for a 'real solid gold watch' which is not worth more than a few pence. The fellow bookmaker and his touts call 'a real good sport' to his face, and 'an easy mug' behind his back. The lad who thinks it manly to drink, swear and gamble."
Not a bad definition - I hope you agree.
Some years before the war a well-known bookmaker retired and wrote a book on his life. Here is an extract from that book:
"In one single day I made as much as £5,000 - out of mugs - and I am writing to show the so-called sportsman that the odds against him are so tremendous that in the long run it is impossible for him to win. I hope that these words of mine will induce men to give the game up, as I am sure this would be a means of bringing happiness to thousands who now waste their money in a wilful way ... The odds against them are so fearful that success is next to impossible."
That is a frank confession from one inside.
Talking about odds, do you know what the real odds are against getting ten results correct in a football pool? Each match can end in one of three ways (a win for either side or a draw). The odds are therefore three to the power of ten, and if you are mathematically inclined you can work it out for yourself. The answer comes to 59,049, so the odds are 59,048 to one. Yet week after week hundreds of thousands are spending their money on equally fantastic odds.
At this stage I must comment on the argument which I daresay all of you have heard. It runs something like this:
Oh yes, I know all about the odds, but I cannot see that betting, in itself, is a sin. I cannot see anything wrong putting 2s. 6d. on a horse or a football pool. If I lose my half-crown I can afford it, and it's my own look-out."
But surely the answer is this. No act of yours or mine can stand by itself. It must be considered as part of the world in which we live. You cannot shut yourself up and isolated yourself and your actions. You are part of Society, and we are all bound together in this bundle we call life. If, therefore, you know that gambling is getting a stranglehold on the nation, ruining homes, breaking the hearts of loved ones, sending more folk to gaol or remand homes than any other crime; then you as a good citizen, as a Christian man or woman, should do all in your power to discourage, by your example, this practice which is the curse of this country.
I often think that part of the trouble is that we have our moral standards all wrong. Two of the greatest organs of publicity, the press and the cinema, specially the latter, constantly hold up before the world that wealth and luxury are desirable ends in themselves. And are not Christians compromising today on these issues? Compromising with the world and the world's moral standards; is not that why we are failing? The standards of Christ must be accepted or rejected. There is no half-way house. You are either for or against them. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
Do you know that round about one thousand million pounds is spent on gambling every year in this country? Just think of what we, as a nation, could so with that money. And if that does not shake you, what about the utter waste (in these days of man-power shortage) of the thousands of men and women employed by the gambling firms for utterly unproductive work. And if you are not concerned with the waste of money or labour, think of the degradation of national and individual character and loss of efficiency. Some firms have estimated the loss on gambling due to bad work, spoilt material, friction in shop, factory or office, as equivalent to ten per cent of their capital!
The Rt. Hon. Phillip Snowden (later Viscount Snowden) when Chancellor of the Exchequer, said "Gambling is the distinctive vice of our age. It is a national canker which must be stamped out else this country will ultimately sink to a very low level."
Do you know that the Football Association is very concerned about the growth of football pools, and would give a lot to be able to stamp it out? Why? Well here is what one member of the F.A. said about gambling. "In the forty years in which I have been associated with sport I have seen gambling corrupt every sport it touches, and I prophecy it will corrupt and ruin football if it continues."
The following is an extract from The Congregational Quarterly of a few months ago:
"The Epworth Press have just published a book entitled Gambling in English Life (6s.). It is an exhaustive survey of the practical aspects of this problem and gives an account of the efforts of Parliament to discourage and limit practices so socially pernicious. For we Christians, Christ's teaching about the stewardship of wealth is a sufficient condemnation of gambling gains as well as losses. What further guidance we need is found in the simple fact that a tree is judged by its fruit. A tree that bears much evil fruit is something less that good. Few fathers would learn with equanimity that their sons had developed a habit of gambling; and a man in any position of trust who was known to be a habitual gambler would on that account be regarded with justifiable suspicion."
And now let me say what we can do to stop it. First of all, legislation won't stop it; it will only drive it underground. You have probably heard people say that gambling is the natural impulse of the human heart and never will be eradicated. That is where they are wrong. One thing and one thing only will stop it, and when I tell you what it is you will probably laugh because it is so unexciting, so slow in operation. The "one thing" is an educated public opinion. And now I will try to prove it to you.
One hundred or more years ago open and unabashed drunkenness was the rule in all walks of life. Young men were not considered to have grown up until they had managed to get dead drunk - it was the manly thing to do. Today you seldom if ever see a drunken man. What has made the change? An educated public opinion.
What stopped the evils of Child Labour in factories and mines? What stopped duelling in this country and the continent? What stopped cock-fighting? An educated public opinion.
What killed slavery? The force of public opinion created by Wilberforce.
And gambling can go too, Public opinion can win that victory, and in that victory every man and woman here tonight can play a part. Please remember that whenever you show to others that you consider gambling is both a mug's game, a sin, and a source of crime, you are helping a little to create that public opinion.
In his Presidential address to the Congregational Union of England and Wales last May, the Rev. Howard Stanley, M.A., had this to say about gambling, and with his worlds I should like to close -
"Let the Assemblies of our people be the places where Christian comment and judgement are delivered on those social and moral issues about which the men and women of our day are making up their minds and so shaping the character of this nation. If, for example, we take a different view about gambling than do the majority of the Church Assembly, if by observation and experience we are sure that it is the greatest single social evil of our time, a cancer gnawing at the heart of the nation, an irrational and anti-social habit, a negation of the Christian principle of stewardship, let us say so, and be reported as saying so, not only in the pages of the Christian World, but in the provincial and local press, let us say so, not only in this Assembly, but nearer the homes of our people, nearer our lads' clubs and Boys' Brigades and Boy Scouts."
Brian A. Wren, our local hymn writer, was born in Romford, Essex in 1936. His hymns are known throughout the world and have been influential in raising awareness of theology. So far, Wren has written around 250 hymns, many of which are familiar in our church.
Wren initially served in the British army for two years before attending Oxford University where he earned a degree in Modern languages in 1960, followed by a degree in Theology in 1962. After this, Wren studied for a PhD in Theology of the Old Testament, which he was awarded in 1968 after writing a thesis entitled The language of prophetic eschatology in the Old Testament.
Whilst studying for his PhD, Wren was ordained into the Congregational Church (now the URC) and became the minister at Hockley and Hawkwell Congregational Church in Essex. His wife, Susan M. Heafield is a United Methodist pastor.
When Wren left his church in 1970, he briefly served as the Consultant for Adult Education for the Churches’ Committee on World Development and the Coordinator of Third World First (now known as People and Planet). Between 1976 and 1983, he was a member of the Executive Board of the UK Aid Charity, after which he decided to return to ministry. In 2000, Wren became the Conant Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Georgia, USA, eventually retiring in 2007. During this time, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis.
Wren’s hymns have been published in seven books and appear in almost every hymnal. His hymn Hidden Christ, Alive For Ever was the runner up in the international Millennium Hymn Competition awarded at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2000. Wren believes, “a hymn is a poem, and a poem is a visual art form. The act of reading a hymn aloud helps to recover its poetry and its power to move us—the power of language, image, metaphor, and faith-expression.” He explores this concept in his book Praying Twice: The Music and Words of Congregational Song.
According to Wren, hymns should help people to “know and understand the meaning of God’s creating, self-disclosing and liberating activity centred and uniquely focused in Jesus Christ.” He was also determined to make hymns less male-orientated, removing words like “he” in order to make them more inclusive for women. Many churches have adopted this mindset as a result.
Of Wren’s many hymns, these are the ones in our hymnbook:
Where did religion come from? This is the question Reza Aslan, a scholar of religions, attempts to answer in his latest publication, God: A Human History. To date, Aslan has tackled subjects such as the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and the origins, evolution and future of Islam. In this book, the author journeys back to the earliest evidence of human existence and, using a mix of resources, theories and investigations, tries to determine how our ancestors conceived the idea of gods and souls. Maintaining the idea that the majority of humans think of God as a divine version of ourselves, Aslan also looks at the way our perception of life after death has altered due to the changes in our governments and cultures.
Reza Aslan claims that he, a Muslim-devout-Christian-convert-turned-Sufi, is neither trying to prove or disprove the existence of God or gods. Instead, he is providing readers with a thorough history of religion with a strong suggestion that we, as believers, have fashioned God in our image, and not the other way around.
Insisting that belief systems are inherited from each previous generation, Aslan takes a look at ancient cave drawings where he, and many other theorists, surmise that a form of religion was already well underway. Lack of written word results in a lot of speculation and hypothesis as to what these, usually animal-like, drawings represent, however, many have come to the conclusion that early humans had some form of animistic belief system.
Although not a dig at religion, after all, the author is religious himself, the following chapters bring in to question the authenticity of past and present beliefs. With reference to various psychologists, Aslan poses the theory that ancient humans may have misinterpreted dreams as evidence of a spirit realm. With no one qualified to clarify the things they did not understand, anything without a clear explanation may have been attributed to a god or gods.
As the author describes how religious ideas may have developed from these primitive beliefs to the fully detailed faiths of today, he labels the human race as anthropocentric creatures that have based their religions on human traits and emotions. By reporting in this way, it comes across that the past ideas of the soul, spiritual realms, gods and so forth could not possibly be true, yet, as the final chapters suggest, Aslan is still adamant about the existence of God.
Aslan’s narrative speeds up, finally reaching the recognizable religions of today. Beginning with the Israelites, enslaved by the Egyptians, the author explains, using biblical references, how the first successful monotheistic religion came about. However, researchers have studied the early Bible texts and are inconclusive as to whether the God worshipped by the Jews was the only divine being or whether there were others of a similar standing.
Next, Aslan explores Christianity, posing more questions than he solves, for example, is God one or is God three (i.e. the Holy Trinity)? He defines and compares the definitions of monotheism and pantheism, eventually bringing in Islam and the development of Sufism, which he is not afraid of admitting he agrees with.
God: A Human History is disappointingly short, ending with the feeble conclusion that humans are born with the ability to be convinced of the existence of a divine being and the soul, but it is our own choice to decide whether or not to believe in them. The remaining third of the book is an abundance of notes on the texts, bibliographical references, and Reza Aslan’s personal opinions about the ideas and theories mentioned in his history of religion.
Although an extensive history on the origins of religion, God: A Human History leaves readers none the wiser as to whether their belief is founded in truth or whether it is something that has evolved over time due to lack of understanding about the world. Granted, it was not the aim of the book to prove or disprove the existence of God, however, it may unintentionally sow seeds of doubt or, potentially, anger devout believers. However, there is no attempt at persuading readers to believe one thing or another, thus making it suitable for people of all religion and none.
"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength."
"Carefully watch you thoughts, for they become your words.
Manage and watch you words, for they become your actions.
Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits.
Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values.
Understand and embrace your values, for they come your destiny."
"If you're always in a hurry, always trying to get ahead of the other guy, or someone else's performance is what motivates you, then that person is in control of you."
"Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the mental forces of hate, jealousy, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces."
"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is a beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realise it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfil it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is life, fight for it!"
"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."
"If you realised how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."
"Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone's face?
Did I say worlds of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come."
"In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact."
"Be not afraid of life, Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact."
"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not twist them to fit in our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflections of ourselves we find in them."
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
"Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid."
"Remember, you have been criticising yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens."
Louise L. Hay - You Can Heal Your Life
"I hope that you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind."
"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Do or do not. There is no try."
Yoda (George Lucas), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."
Will Durant - The Story of Philosophy
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."
"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
"Do what you can with what you have, where you are."
"Success is not getting what you want, it's enjoying what you have."
"Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer and forgiveness."
H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Life's Instructions for Wisdom, Success, and Happiness
"There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches posses people."
"Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings
"Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own troubles be sufficient for the day."
"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it."
"Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later."
"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself."
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
"Forgiveness. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. You are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You really are lighter. You feel lighter. You just drop that."
"God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well."
"Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours."
"The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted."
Source: 365 Quotes to Live Your Life By: Powerful, Inspiring & Life-Changing Words of Wisdom to Brighten Up Your Days - I. C. Robledo
Everyone knows the hymns All Things Bright and Beautiful and Once in Royal David’s City but how many people know about the woman who wrote them? Cecil Frances Alexander was born in Dublin in 1818 to Major John and Elizabeth Humphreys. She began writing verses at an early age and was later inspired by the Oxford Movement, which combined the Church of England with older teachings of the church to form Anglo-Catholicism. One member of the Oxford Movement, John Keble, later helped Alexander to edit her notable book Hymns for Little Children.
By 1840, Alexander’s hymns were well-known in the Church of Ireland. In 1850, she married the soon-to-be Bishop of Derry and Archbishop of Armagh, William Alexander. Their daughter, Eleanore Jane Alexander, inherited her mother’s gift for words and became a well-known poet.
As a bishop’s wife, Alexander used the proceeds from her hymn books to help several charities. In the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, her donations assisted in the founding of the Diocesan Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. She was also provided support at the Derry Home for Fallen Women and was an "indefatigable visitor to poor and sick".
After her death in 1913, Alexander was commemorated with a stained glass window at St Columb’s Cathedral in Derry. Comprising of three windows, the memorial references three of her hymns: One in Royal, There is a Green Hill Far Away and The Golden Gates are Lifted Up.
Many of Alexander’s hymns were targeted at children to help them learn the Apostle’s Creed. All Things Bright and Beautiful was based on the opening clause, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
Once in Royal David’s City, was inspired by the clause “I believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary”. Originally intended to be sung in Sunday Schools, the hymn is now one of our most popular Christmas Carols. The hymn was put to music by Henry John Gauntlett and since 1919, the Kings College Chapel Cambridge has used the carol as their processional hymn at the Nine Lessons and Carols service. The Kings College Choir began the tradition that the first verse should be sung by a soloist and it was also the first song they recorded for public consumption in 1948.
The phrase “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried,” inspired the hymn There is A Green Hill Far Away. Explaining Jesus’ death to young children has always been a challenge and Alexander wished to pen something that would make it easier. Inspired by a barren green hill near her home, Alexander used the hymn to explain that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven.
Having written so many hymns, it is surprising that Cecil Frances Alexander is not better known. Unfortunately, she lived at a time when women were not considered as important as men, which has resulted in her name being glossed over. Nevertheless, her words live on. Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult is another of her well-known hymns.
Is the Bible really gospel truth? This is the question the honourable, academic Robert Babcock aims to find out on his quest to find the earliest copies of the gospels in order to prove the reliability of the story of Jesus as recounted in the King James Bible. However, this is not the key focus of Stephen Taylor’s fictional novel, Gospels. The main character is the perfidious John Campbell-John, a rogue, imposter and swindler who flees 19th-century England in an attempt to escape from his debts.
John meets the magnanimous Robert in Venice and, despite being polar opposites, become firm friends. After being honest for the first time in his life, admitting to owing thousands of pounds in gambling debts, Robert offers John the opportunity to accompany him on his quest through the deserts of Egypt. John accepts and the pair finds themselves on an adventure of discovery and personal redemption.
John and Robert make an unlikely but excellent team. Robert’s knowledge of the Bible and ancient history is vital, however, John’s propensity for falsehoods and cunningness gets them out of a few scrapes and tricky situations. Nonetheless, it is difficult for John to give up his old ways and his insular behaviour threatens to get them in more trouble.
Fortunately, Robert’s humility begins to influence the young scoundrel, as does his penchant for historical artefacts. As the story progresses, John begins to leave his past behind and becomes interested in Robert’s work, learning new things about Egyptian culture and the origins of the Bible. However, when a new gospel comes to light that threatens the whole of Christianity, Robert does not know what to do; and only John can give him counsel.
John Campbell-John is a character that the author introduced in a previous book. However, the timelines are not sequential, therefore Gospels is a stand-alone novel. The time frame for this book needed to be set in 1835 to correspond with historical truths. Although Robert’s discovery of a Gospel of Thaddeus Jude is an invention of the author, the quest itself is based on the journeys of three 19th-century Bible hunters. Stephen Taylor has conducted an enormous amount of research, including the biographies of Robert Curzon, Constantin von Tischendorf and Émile Amélineau who, on separate occasions, sought the same knowledge as the fictional Robert Babcock.
Despite being titled Gospels, the novel, for the most part, focuses on John Campbell-John and his wicked ways. Through a first-person narrative, John explains his past, his betrayal of a friend, and his addiction to gambling. Initially, he has no qualms about his behaviour and acts only for himself and his selfish greed. Whilst Robert goes in search of knowledge, John goes on a journey of redemption, coming to terms with his previous wrongdoings. However, acknowledging these faults is not enough, he needs to turn away from these roguish ways.
It is disappointing that the narrative does not focus more on the gospels, both real and imagined. There was enormous scope for an in-depth look at the life of Jesus and the inconsistencies in the Bible. The fictitious Gospel of Thaddeus Jude evokes a similar reaction in Robert as the Non-Canonical Gospel of Thomas found in the 19th-century had on many devout Christians. There was so much potential with this direction of thought, however, the author passes over it in preference to the life of John Campbell-John.
Slow to begin but increasingly interesting as it progresses, Gospels is a book of many themes. History, both 19th-century and ancient; religion, although not a Christian story; and achievement and absolution combine together to produce a unique tale that takes the reader from the back alleys of London to the River Nile and the deserts of Sinai. A subtle clue in the prologue keeps readers alert as they await the conclusion of the adventure – an ending that ambiguously reveals whether John moves on from the follies of his past.
The following article was written by Mr. A. Van der Broek of Stapleford Abbots and published in the February 1951 issue of Progress, the monthly magazine of Romford Congregational Church.
We have heard and read a great deal about gambling lately. I hope we have all thought about it a good deal, too, because it is much more satisfactory if we can after due consideration come to an independent opinion from within rather than rely on others to solve these questions for us and to advice us on these matters.
There are many sides to the problem. Let's look a moment at the practical side first. Its usefulness. Or its wastefulness. Useful only as a source of excitement perhaps and by the way very useful and profitable of course to the promoters. But in its nature, a most wasteful pastime. Of every £1,000 paid by the public in entrance fees or whatever you may call it at least £100 is lost in running expenses, advertisements, salaries, printing, postage, office expenses, etc, etc. And the next week we have the same thing all over again. Therefore in order to gamble with £1,000 it costs the nation nothing less than £5,200 per year. This is not taking into account the loss of energy both by the public and by the staff which are helping to run the show. If all this consuming energy was turned into producing energy it would most certainly make a good deal of difference in our cost of living.
Now let us consider the education or intellectual value of gambling. Crossword puzzles have a good deal of educational value but does the filling of football coupons stimulate anyone's intellectual aspirations? I am told that it really does not matter much whether you understand football or not. You can buy a special guide every week which gives you all the answers and you just copy them out. And judging from paper reports, well I believe the less you know about it and the less you expect from the results, the luckier you may be. To pin one's hope week after week on something the results of which we cannot materially influence must be in the long run damaging to a person's will, creative efforts and general intellect.
This in turn may have damaging psychological repercussions. Continual disappointment is a potential danger to a person's mental stability.
Now I would like to look at the question from a Christian or Biblical point of view. Has the Christian any special considerations when weighing up the pro's and con's of a particular question? I think he should have. I know it is not an easy thing to reckon with nor is it a very popular theme to touch, but should we not first and foremost ask ourselves the question whether or not anything we do is to the honour of God? Listen to St. Paul's advice in 1 Cor. 10:31: "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the Glory of God." The question, then, we have to ask ourselves is: Can gambling be used somehow to the honour of God?
Or take another ruling from the New Testament, Romans 14:23: "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." If we have faith in God is there any room for gambling?
Now both these questions can be ridiculed quite easily. Yet I think that before we make up our minds definitely about gambling and any other thing for that matter, we do well to remember that our relationship with God places us in a very special position when we consider such questions, and let us not forget that we will have to give an account of all our deeds to God.
The reason why, and the purpose whatfor, are two dominant facts to consider when weighing up whether or not we can agree to "gambling".
You will now be able I think to see clearly the difference between a raffle in a church bazaar and the football pools, horse racing and suchlike. After all it is quite obvious that the buying of a ticket in a raffle at a church bazaar is not done for personal gain but only to help the work of the Church. It is equally obvious that the person who gambles on dog races or on the Stock Exchange does so for personal gain. (Legitimate trade in stocks and bonds cannot be identified with gambling).
Now, when the Wednesday evening fellowship discussed gambling, one of the members of the brains trust pardoned a person for gambling because it was the only possible way for that person to ever stand a chance of obtaining enough money, to help his or her invalid mother. Well, then, this sort of gambling would seem to fall under the category of gambling not for personal gain and could not therefore be condemned. Another question arises, however, namely, is there no other way in which this unfortunate person could be helped? Surely it is a very bleak and poor outlook if she has to wait for the luck of the person who has taken pity on her.
And we could not possibly pardon gambling because in one or two cases the reason is not personal gain but the desire to help the unfortunate.
In our church such cases would be brought to the notice of the League of Good Samaritans and the person concerned would not have to wait for the lucky result of a football pool before receiving help, I feel sure!
Another reason why we should say no to gambling is that the possibility of easy personal gain is a temptation to many a person to endanger or risk funds which are necessary for the well being of one's dependants or even worse than that - lay hands on funds which do not belong to the person who gambles with these. And if we allow gambling we are in my opinion in some measure responsible for the sin of others in the direction. This is of course only an opinion. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, but in order to be fully persuaded let us consider the question from as many angles as seem opportune. And please do not forget the younger people are looking to us for guidance and counsel. Shall we think twice before we lightly dismiss the question with a "can't see anything wrong in it?".
Inscription on a height at Windermere - John Keble
Though who hast given me eyes to see
And love this sight so fair,
Give me a heart to find out Thee,
And read Thee everywhere.
It couldn't happen here - or could it?
The minister of a fashionable church engaged a black servant and to his astonishment on the first Sunday saw Rastus all poshed up sitting in the front pew. Knowing the feelings of his congregation, the minister leaned from the pulpit and suggested to Rastus he should withdraw, which he did with some dignity but embarrassment as he walked down the aisle. The minister was also somewhat embarrassed and on reaching home tendered a sort of apology to his servant, but Rastus just said: "Oh, it's alright sah. When I got back home I just went down on my knees and told God about it and He said: 'Don't be afraid Rastus, I've been trying to get into that church for years and can't, so why should you worry?'"
"Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave."
"Nothing is achieved without hard word."
The background of this newsletter is Romans 12:9-21 and the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
June is named after Juno, the queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage and weddings. This leads to the subject of commitment and loyalty. As Christians, we can be assured of God’s love for us; however dark and dismal the situation may be, we know that God is with us. We know, for instance, that God is with us now during these uncertain times. We have to show commitment to God in all of our dealings. As the marriage ceremony says, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse. So, we must stay married to God and build that relationship. The more we trust, the more our faith deepens. Even though we have rough times, we can be assured of God presence. But, like any marriage, it has to be worked on. There has to be understanding. Just as God knows us intimately, so we, in turn, must know God. What does God like? What pleases God? How can we get brownie points? If we work hard, then I believe the reward that knowing God is with us is the best gift we can receive.
We can, of course, choose to divorce and separate ourselves from God. Don’t listen to his guidance, go our own way, and feel freedom untethered by God’s demands. But we can be assured that God is always waiting for us to return. When we do return, there is no retribution but a feast because God is so pleased you have returned.
Fun Fact: it is said that the Bible can be read allowed from beginning to end in around 70 hours.
We are happy for you to use any material found here, however, please acknowledge the source: www.gantshillurc.co.uk
Rev'd Martin Wheadon